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There are a large number of species of tortoises, turtles and terrapins which do not fall within the common descriptive groups known as 'Mediterranean' or 'tropical' tortoises. Many of these are aquatic or semi aquatic and they come from a wide range of habitats and have very different dietary and husbandry requirements.
It is vital to find out detailed information about these species before purchasing them to ensure that adequate provision can be made for the well being of the turtle or tortoise.
Although this website does not at present deal with such species in depth, this page provides a glimpse at the species more commonly encountered in the UK.
There are a large number of other species of tortoises and turtles which are available for sale in the UK. Many of these species are aquatic or semi-aquatic and all have differing requirements which need to be met. Some of these species are strictly controlled by CITES and DEFRA and some are very large and (for example snapping turtles) ferocious and potentially dangerous pets. These species come from a wide range of habitats and climates and range from the strictly herbivorous to the strictly carnivorous. Before purchasing any turtle or tortoise, it is absolutely essential to make sure you have researched their natural environment and their requirements in captivity to ensure they are cared for properly.
This website does not seek to explain the care and husbandry of these species (although future expansion cannot be ruled out) and provides detailed information on only the Mediterranean species and the more commonly available tropical species of tortoise. Below are a few basic details about other tortoises, turtles and terrapins which are encountered in the UK.
Box TurtlesBox turtles can be found in the wild in North America and Asia. American box turtles are widespread throughout Eastern, Central and Southwestern states as far North as Canada and South into Mexico. Box turtles are semi-aquatic and need access to a body of water and their natural habitat is mostly woodland and scrubby grassland with well drained soil. Box turtles eat plant matter, which they mainly find on land although they will take a much larger proportion of invertebrates (especially when young) in their diet than most tortoises. They require plenty of fresh shallow water and while they are not strong swimmers, they will splash around for considerable periods of time and have been known to forage for aquatic plants and invertebrates. Asiastic box turtles are generally more aquatic than American species. They spend the time when they are not looking for food wedged beneath rocks or logs or in burrows to escape predation.
Red Eared TerrapinThis is the terrapin that used to be popular as a pet and in schools and can also be found living wild in the UK due to large numbers of these animals being dumped once they became too large. Their natural range is the Americas, with the species being found in all temperate and tropical waters. Also called the red eared slider in the USA, this turtle is mostly aquatic spending the day searching for food or hauled out onto log or other objects to sunbathe. They grow to be about 12 inches long and get their name from the red patches behind the ears. They can be quite gregarious in the wild (and in captivity if given enough space) and prefer slow moving fresh water with an adequate supply of food available. In the wild they are omnivorous and eat fish, invertebrates and plants. In captivity, plant matter should make up at least 50% of their diet. The eggs are laid on land and take about thirty days to hatch and in the more Northern parts of its range the species will hibernate in the mud.